Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

To all our friends and family Linda & I extend our best wishes for a Merry Christmas.

While I know that the date of Christ's birth is unknown -- and I also know that our hope is because of his death, burial and resurrection which hopefully we honor and celebrate through a daily walk in his footsteps - it still seems appropriate to remember that angels rejoiced on the night of his birth and the world has changed forever because he came.

So I hope you can take this time to celebrate with family and friends in sharing love, life, laughter -- and yes even gifts -- as a joyous reminder of the most precious gift God has ever given the world -- and as we do this may we alsobe reminded of the compassion Jesus showed and called us to show to all especially those who are lacking in this world's goods.

It has been almost a month again since I last posted.

We left on December 7 to go to Chris’ in Aurora – we arrived home December 18. While there, in addition to spending timewith Chris, Tammye and of course Hunter & Camdyn, we worked on the basement putting up paneling, installing trim, doors and painting. By the time we left the “family room” was in usable condition and looked quite nice (if I do say so myself). The flooring and ceilings remain plus a little bit of finishing along one wall and down the hallway to the storage area. (I have some pictures to update the prior reports on this project from last Christmas and again in April but that will have to wait for another time)

I attended services at Naperville CofC both Sundays (Linda wasn't feeling well the 2ndSunday so she wasunabletoattend). The 2nd week they were installing 2 additional elders to supporting their growing family. They are planning a major addition to start in the spring that make our plans for a small addition of an entrance with elevator for accessibility pale by comparison.

While we were away it was discovered that both of the furnaces that heat our building at PineHill had cracked heat exchangers and had to be replaced. The building was also unusable because of the danger of CO from the one furnace that was left running to prevent freezing. Our sister congregation (Eastside) opened their facilities for us to share Wednesday evening and Sunday services – the new furnaces are being installed and we expect to be “back in business” this Sunday. Big dent in our financial cushion and we haven’t assessed the impact on our renovation plans – but in Sault Ste. Marie you need heat so there wasn’t much choice

We have spent the last couple of days recuperating from our trip and making preparations for a couple of family events to-day & tomorrow.

Sunday morning we head out to Melissa’s in Kingston to share Christmas with her & Alexander.

We had a “gramma” Christmas with Chris, Tammye, Hunter & Camdyn last Sunday. Sunday afternoon Chris & I took the kids sledding – and they enjoyed the new sled we gave Hunter. Linda got a platter with the handprints of here 3 grandchildren. They had gotten Will’s handprint when they were here in September. We also got a GPS based map for traveling – Linda thinks that will be great in avoiding the stress she feels when we are traveling and I want her to check the map when something unexpected happens or I haven’t worked out the route in advance). We tried it out on the way home and it was impressive. I had programmed in our home address and as we drove up to our driveway the GPS lady said “Turn left – you are home”.

Well I need to run --
God Bless

Monday, November 26, 2007

An up & down week

Another week has flashed by. I started on Monday seeming to be getting ahead -- I moved the summer stuff from the garage to the shed and cleaned up enough to get the car in. (We were getting tired of having to scrape the frost off all the time).

I made a Red Cross run and took a lady to the Group Health Center for adoctor's appointment --while there I caught up a little on current events by reading the various news magazines lying around. Ioften am pretty oblivious to those things when I'm focussed on a major prject (as I have been since September with the "statistics for Engineers" course.)

I also had to respond to some suggestions from the "client" on the course. It is a "work in progress" and we are attempting to find a balance between 'lecture", discussion, and hand's on problem solving. It is a "customized" course aimed at meeting the needs of the specific group and that is difficult because the participants have a wide range of prior expereince. Some need a lot of "instruction" , others just need a refresher and exposure to the software tools that comewith the course. Each week it seems we understand better what works and what doesn't and need to make adjustments . It has taken more effort to prepare for classes" this "2nd time through" than I had anticipated. But it is still significantly less work preparing and I have had time to fill in some "gaps" that we missed the first time through. It will be good tofinish this Friday and have (at least) a month off.

I also had a short discussionwith Paul & my brother Rob at the church building--dealing with outfittingPaul with a new computer (He had a nightmare experience with a "lemon" - faulty hard drive that the supplier was unable to resolve and needed a replacement while continuing the battle with the original supplier) and a discussion on some ministry issues we are dealing with.

Tuesday was devoted to making preparations for a ministry information session Tuesday night. I had been asked to review the "roles & responsibilities"of the various ministry areas--since we had a number of new people involved and had made several changes with Paul coming "on board" in July. We are also embarking on some major "construction" projects which required setting up a "project management group".

Late Tuesday afternoon our son Chris called with the news that Tammye's sister Marlene had died that morning. She had been ill with a Parkinson's like disease but her death was unexpected. She had a heart attack and died in her sleep. -- She would have been 60 to-day (November 26). We pray God's blessings for her family as they deal with this loss.

While we weren't close to Richard and Marlene, they had been a part of our "extended family" since Tammye came into Chris's life in the early 90's. ThroughTammye and the occasional get together, we followed their lives and the lives of their their children Christopher(who is now a policeman in Toronto - (inspired by a "ride along" with our Christopher about 5 years ago), Jennifer (a teacher) and Jessica (still in school).

Chris and Tammye drove up on Wednesday and left Sunday morning. It was an unexpected (and mixed emotions) visit with them and with Hunter & Camdyn. Linda & I tried to spend as much time as we could with them -especially the kids to let them talk through howtheywerefeelingabout this. Tammye's mother was killed in a car accident when she was a teenager and Marlene as the oldest sister had been a mother figure for her. We took the kids to see the Bee movie Friday night and took them to the funeral on Saturday (and brought them home after the church service rather than have them be part of the graveside service).

In the midst of all this, I came down with a cold. I hope I didn't pass it on to the kids. The cold got worse as the week went on and I didn’t go out at all yesterday. I think I'm on the mend today. We also had a couple of "panicy" days when we heard from Sarah that Will had aserious croup and she had totake him toemergfor a ventalin treatment. It tears Linda's heart to be so far away when here grandson is ill. By Friday he seemedtobeon themend--hopefully he has bounced back to his usual bubbly self.

Saturday, I made a quick trip to the place where the "BBB" is stored to disconnect the battery and do some other small things. (We hadn't done that last wek because John thought I might need to move it after he had gotten more of the vehicles in but it turned out that it wasn't going to be necessary.

Linda spent several hours on Wednesday counselling Wendy & her daughter about their situation. Friday --much to our relief - she got a clean bill ofhealth from theheart specialist fter having undergone several stress tests-- which were initiated because of an incident last spring when she had (what we now believe was) an anxiety attack while travelling in the mountains-- she reallydoesn' tlike heights!!

Well that was our week. God continues to be there for us and we seek the good he has promised we can find in all things.

One thing from my "virtual visits" this past week. You might enjoy this "You Tube" video (Thanks to Neva for pointing it out to me) "New Again"by Brad Paisley & Sara Evans


Monday, November 19, 2007

8 days in the Journey ...

I’m trying to get back into posting more frequently but it hasn’t seemed to happen. Probably because I keep wanting to say more – However, to get myself started I’ve been doing a daily journal entry and – good, bad or indifferent that what this post is - a daily log of the past 8 days (November 11 to 18) . Mostly mundane – with a few significant events (for me at least).

Sunday (18th) was a full day. We had our monthly potluck following services. Roger and Sandra (Regular readers may recall that Roger was our minister here up until September 2006- there are some entries about his family in my postings in July/August 2006). Their son Kyle and his wife Anna came by with their kids – Bayleigh and the just born (Wednesday 14th) new daughter Madison. Their daughter Jessica was there as well – it was good to see them all. Kyle is a medical student and had just finished a placement at Thessalon – which he had chosen because it meant Anna could stay with her parents here in the Sault and he would be close by when the baby came. He actually had the privilege of doing his first delivery for his own child.

After potluck we had a ground breaking ceremony. (even though we actually won't be "digging a hole" until spring we had planned this event when we thought we would be starting thisfall so we decided to go ahead -- it is symbolic of the fact that we are proceeding over the winter with some major interior enovations as well). I had to fill in for Lloyd who had been the one who along with Richarsd Mcnaughton had spearheaded the planning work over the past year -- he was ill and unable to attend. (L to R - Paul Hillier, Pauli Valli,myself and my Dad) .

We finished out the day with an area wide singing with about 75 people present- with visitors from Eastside and Thessalon.
I enjoy singing (even though I'm pretty tone challenged) and it was a moving experience to have so many voices lifted in song -- especially since several of the visitors are excellent singers and we had lost a lot of our musical talent over the past 2 years.

Saturday – Spent several hours preparing the “BBB” for storage (batteries removals) and similar things and in the afternoon took it out to John & Megan’s new storage barn. It’s not heated but it is at least under cover. (As I mentioned above) Roger & Sandra were in town -- and he came by for a visit. We caught up on family and discussed a number of “theological” issues -- this was something I had missed -- the “iron sharpening iron” conversations that Roger and I had over breakfast many times while he was here.

Friday – the day was taken up teaching - special course on Statistical Quality control for engineers from Algoma Steel.

Thursday – Morning was taken up in a meeting at the church building to review our plans for a building expansion and renovation. We had intended to put in the foundations this fall for a new entrance. The addition will provide accessibility (elevator) and other features. However, the group that was to do the framing in the spring had withdrawn from the project – so we decided to hold off on that part until spring to give us time to line up other sources to do the framing work. We are continuing to proceed with a number of interior renovations. Most of the rest of the day was spent preparing for my class

Wednesday - Spent the early morning preparing for my Friday class. I had dental cleaning just before noon and then took the “BBB” (motor home) to the Truck Service Center for Oil & Lube prior to storing for winter. When I went to pick it up the battery was dead –not sure why – the service guy said they had to use the Auxilliary start to get it going when they moved it – it may have been the brake lights because the pedal sometimes sticks down a bit and they stay on— when it has been sitting and isn’t being used – which has been the case. (I charged it on Thursday and it was fine so I guess it likely was the brakelights))

The previous Sunday (11th) we found thatmy Dad had a “strange” coat. Linda had gotten him a very nice fleece lined fall jacket and somehow it had gotten exchanged for a larger unlined coat. We had asked around with people where he had been but nothing showed up. Thursday a.m. we got an apologetic call from Cora – who had been at a Bible study with Dad the previous Thursday and had accidentally taken his coat – she had just discovered that she had his so that mystery was solved. We had Dad over for dinner as we have been doing most Wednesday’s. I had meeting at University and so didn’t get out to Wednesday services. Rob started a new class and apparently there was a good turnout.

Tuesday – I met with Paul & Rob in the morning to discuss some administrative things related to Paul’s “contract” and to work out plans for a visit by Joel Osborne- a young man we have supported (small amount) with a mission work in Sendai Japan.

Linda & I were at Lorraine’s to get our hair cut. Lorraine’s parent- Gordon & Dorothy Denis and her aunt Carol were there and we had a good visit with them. They were in town for a gathering of the Bailey family.
In the afternoon we went for a walk and I managed to get an hour to finish clearing the backyard of leaves. I also squeezed in a few hours of work for the course I am teaching.

In the evening, we were at a pot luck followed by a Sunday school (children’s) meeting. We are challenged with providing a quality program with very few teachers and a small number of children. It is easy to become discouraged – and even to ask is it worth continuing?—However, our confidence is in God not ourselves and our teachers are committed to giving what they can as long as there is 1 child to be taught.

Monday –
We took some time to drive to Thessalon, picked up Linda’s mom and drove out the see the “cabin” that Linda’s brothers Erin and Dan (and their construction partner Brent) are building on Cummings lake – off Highway 129 about 20 miles northeast of Thessalon .

Some “cabin” – It is at least 1500 sq. feet on the ground floor with a “loft” – It has cedar beams and a high cathedral ceiling—and a view out over the lake that could take your breath away.

Way out of my league to be able to invest in the area of a half million dollars for a place to come a few weeks out of a year. It is far from finished -- the frame is up and they are putting the steel on the roof.

The interior is still completely unfinished. We were left to imagine what it would look like with a floor to ceiling stone.

We dropped by at her sister Arliss’ and had supper there (takeout because Arliss had just come in from a long day’s work) before coming home.
The trip is “strange”, because after 45 years of making that trip, there is a new piece (15 miles) of 4-lane, which by-passes the congestion of Echo Bay and the Garden River reserve.

Sunday November 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada – a day set aside to honor the veterans of various wars -- We have one member at Pinehill who is a veteran of WWII and several others with connections to those conflicts. Linda’s father was injured as a young man fighting in France – so it was a day with real meaning to many of those attending our services yesterday. And we took a moment t the traditional 11o’clock hour to silently remember and perhaps many as I did prayed that nations could stop waging war – but I suppose that as long a there are humans who fail to honor their make these for.

One thing I think is important is that we see that honoring those who have been willing to put their lives on the line in these conflicts is NOT the same as honoring or endorsing the leaders and individuals who are the ultimate sources of these conflicts. War is abhorrent and those who see war and terrorizing other people as a means of achieving their personal goals are callous uncaring individuals who put their own glory above the value of other people’s lives. However, it is also a reality that refusing to do anything to protect the innocent and weak from death and terror is equally abhorrent. How Christians respond to a call to war is a matter of much debate and, perhaps it is my “ostrich” gene (head in the sand) nature but I am thankful that this has not been something that has been up close and personal issue with me. What I mean is that it is easy to say you should or shouldn’t take up arms in defense of your country -- but if you (or your children) are not personally faced with this choice it seems a bit hypothetical and to impose those views on others seems hypocritical.

Sunday was also a busy day for me. Our preaching minister Paul called me on Saturday and said he had lost his voice due to a cold. Since the other person who might have stepped in was away that meant I ended up being on the hook for the Sunday a.m. class and the sermon in addition to the Sunday evening class that I was already doing.

The class was relatively easy so I have a large collection of previous lessons that can easily be “dusted off” in this type of situation. The sermon could be more of a challenge. I do have a file of prior lessons but they usually require updating because I often build them around illustrations tied to specific “current events”. So I used another strategy – I went on the INTERNET and found a recent lesson (Click HERE) posted by my friend JD—Of course I adapted it a little and digressed from the “script” as the “Spirit moved” but it allowed me to provide (what a least 2 or 3 people said was) a meaningful lesson on fairly short notice – Thanks JD

Speaking of JD- I had an email from him telling of the death of one of the people we had met when we were in Pascagoula when we were there. Steve had lived a troubled life but he had come to Mississippi after Katrina because he felt God’s call to do so. Steve wrote an electronic book “Out of Chaos (Click HERE - this may not be available for long following Steve’s death) ) He had been working in Pascagoula and had moved intoan apartment – Sadly he died alone and was not found for several days.

I made a few quick stops in “blogland” this morning. (Monday Nov. 12)

One visit that I especially liked was Neva’s post – she compares the way we approach our Christian lives as a choice to “eke” out a living when a much more profitable “job” is there for the asking. – Are you choosing a “Meager existence”?

Well – that’s our journey for the past 8 days – Likely the next week will be similar.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fall in the North

I‘m finishing this post on a brisk November morning –frost on the ground – with the proverbial” red sky in the morning” signaling more inclement weather later to-day.

I’m going to go ahead and post this regardless of whether it is “complete” or not.

Since the “re-wedding” I have been very busy with 2 teaching assignments at the university along with teaching an adult class Sunday evenings (on the “structure” and purpose of our assemblies). On top of that there is the usual fall activity of preparing the “BBB” for the winter, and a lot of yard work – we have lots of trees and the colors are beautiful but we pay the price when they all congregate on the lawn and in the backyard.

This is a completion of a post I started 3 weeks ago. (I took a time out to finish up my “re-wedding” posts and to-day I WILL finish this one.)

*** written on October 21 ***
I woke up this morning with a compelling urge to do a post. Linda would likely say I’m addicted to blogging and the urge was driven from addiction. I maybe would think it was guilt – but I become more convinced each day that the still small voice urging me to act on something is the Spirit working—

It is almost a month since my last post –over a month since the “big event” and I’ll post some pictures of my lovely daughter’s wedding. (** I decided to do this a (two) separate posts **)

This post is a hodge podge . I started out with the idea that I would do a “look back” to a year ago and talk about the changes over a year.

Well, my first post in October last year was a “look back” asking the question “Why do I blog? (Click HERE) I was making “excuses” for infrequent blog posts – even though I did 7 fairly long posts in September 2006 and only one in September 2007. And I did 5 fairly long posts in October 2006 and NONE in October 2007 (I think it is the first time since I started in March 2006 that I have gone a whole month without posting – I can only hope that for the wonderful friends who keep coming back that the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” holds true in “blogland”

Last year in September, in one post I talked about the SIDS death of Linda’s niece and a visit by Bob & Roeann Ekman. Sadly a year later Roseann too has passed from this world. I also reported on a collection of 40th anniversaries (including ours) so looking back brings a mixture of sadness and joy—which I guess is what life is about –

In October I reported on our big family event (reunion) in anticipation of my Dad’s 90th (which was January 13 2007) and the challenges I was facing in trying to keep up my blogging because I had become “addicted” to a new form of virtual “reality” – participation in a Christian discussion group.

Well my lack of blogging and my getting behind in following my discussion group and my lack of visiting my friends in “blogland” have been worse over the past 2 months than they were a year ago but I’m not nearly as “stressed out” over that.

The other thing I wanted (actually before I went back to look at my blog) was to make a quick visit to some of my favorite blogs.

I only made it tone but it seemed to be a God given push that lead me first to Neva’s world because I found her post saying it was her 1st anniversary of blogging and then looking down a little I found she is in the process of moving from Texas to Nebraska – It will be interesting to experience that move with her –from a distance
**8 end of October 21 "Draft"***

November 10 - More random thoughts from a quick tour of ”blogworld”

John Dobbs laments the frenetic pace of “doing holidays” and the lack of thanksgiving (CLICK here) as our US neighbors approach that holiday. He gives some excellent encouragement to stop and be thankful.

My friend Dee also is on the Thanksgiving theme – working through the alphabet –one a day – with a word starting with the letter of the day (Click HERE) that describes something to be thankful for

Well, I do want to finish this and get it posted so I’ll defer talking about what’s been happening in in the Whitfield’s “real world” journey during October-November 2007 to another time.

God Bless

Monday, November 05, 2007

The "re-wedding" Part 2 - (The ceremony)

The wedding ceremony:

Alexander and Melissa - September 15 2007

The ceremony was wonderful - I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The guests assembled

The piper piped

The wedding ceremony was performed by Alexander’s father who is a minister in Sweden.

They said "I do" (again)
They exchanged rings (this was new)

And they kissed

Mr. & Mrs. Whitfield Aslund - It's (doubly) official

Back down the "aisle" to a new life together

A happy bride and groom

And happy parents

And happy grandparents - Grandma Martha (Linda's Mom) and Grandpa Mervyn (Charlie's Dad)

The wedding party posed for pictures

In 1966 we were two; in in 2006 there were 11 -- now for the first time in one picture the expanded Whitfield family
I had some technical difficulaties uploading the pictures --so that's why this is a day later than the "story of the "re-wedding".
A happy time and a chance to know God's blessings which I pray for each day for Melissa & Alexander and for our entire family.
Now that I've gotten the "big event" recorded maybe I can get back to blogging about "regular" stuff a little more often.
God Bless

The Re-wedding (September 15 2007)

It has been over 5 weeks since I last posted. I think that is the longest gap since I started this back in March of 2006.

I have been working on this post for over 2 week. (I’ll post something more general hopefully within a few days to help explain my absence from “blogland”. Suffice it to say that life in the “real world” has been demanding for the past 2 months.

In my post from September 10 2006 I talked (among other things) about the marriage of our youngest child and only daughter Melissa on September 7 2007. (click HERE and scroll down)

For several reasons (one of which was that Alexander is from Sweden and his parents were unable to come at that time) she & Alexander were married with only their friends Brent & Eleanor as witnesses. However, Melissa wanted to celebrate her marriage with family and friends and we spent the weeks and months following planning (what Melissa came to call) the “re-wedding”. (and if you have been following my postings you have heard about this many times)

The “big event” took place on September 15 2007 – 8 days after their 1st anniversary. (I don’t envy Alexander having 2 “anniversaries” to remember—but then maybe it isn’t so bad –they can celebrate twice –or if they miss the “real” anniversary they have a second chance to make up for it )

The bride & groom: The wedding (September 7 2006) and the “re-wedding” (September 15 2007)

The venue: Camp Wakonda is located on McCarroll’s Lake about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Sault Ste.Marie. Melissa was familiar with it from several family and church events that she had attended there growing up and she wanted to have the wedding celebration there.

(The pictures are from last year when we were making arrangements to rent it of the weekend)

It had the advantage of having “rustic” sleeping accommodations for family and friends providing the more informal atmosphere of a family and friends getting together for a weekend family gathering rather than the more common situation of many people being in hotels and there being limited opportunities for “visiting”.

The week before: Christer & IngBritt Aslundh - Alexander’s parents flew into Kingston on September 6.(the eve of the “real” anniversary). On Wednesday (September 12) Melissa & Alexander, his parent’s and Magnus – Alexander’s friend and best man from Sweden -- arrived in the Sault. (They had picked up Magnus at the Toronto airport enroute).

Kevin Sarah and Will had flown in from Vancouver earlier that day. Wednesday night we had a family dinner to welcome our Swedish visitor’s to the Sault.

Thursday: Chris, Tammye, Hunter & Camdyn arrived and we had a pleasant afternoon and evening of having our entire family in our home (first time for Will to be here & first time we had all been together since Alexander joined our tribe).

Although there were some last minute things to do Linda’s extensive preparations allowed us to spend most of our time enjoying their company).

Wednesday & Thursday, Melissa was fighting a migraine and Alexander’s mother was ill (Christer & IngBritt had gone to a hotel Wednesday night and were unable to join us for dinner on Thursday) so that was a little concerning. Late Thursday, I drove Melissa to pick up Kate – Melissa’s friend and maid of honor – at Kincheloe (CIU) from her flight in from Syracuse where she is attending law school. Melissa and Kate met as roommates at Queen’s their 1st year. They became best friends and roomed to-gether for all 4 years and have continued their friendship since they graduated.

Friday morning was a bit chaotic picking up rental items, packing the motorhome with food and all the other stuff we needed, loading the arbor on our friend’s pickup and then around noon making the trek to Camp Wakonda.

Friday afternoon was even more chaotic – trying to set up in the rain – do the rehearsal – “check-in” Melissa’s friends who were arriving for the night and serve the rehearsal meal – but it went off without any major hitches and by 9 we had everyone fed, the kitchen cleaned up, the arbor (more or less) in place by the lake, the motorhome (re)set up for Kevin , Sarah & Will,(They had been using it as their home away from home since they arrived – we had done that because Will was familiar with the motor home from our visits west and we thought it would make it easier for him to be somewhere familiar. It seemed to work. He was great – when they arrived he settled in quickly and acted as if he had been here all his life.).

We also had Melissa and Alexander settled into their rented trailer (Thanks to our friend from church – Alvin who had towed it out from the Sault that evening) and everyone else settled into their “bunks”. When I went out to bed around 10 I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. The younger crowd stayed up and had a “pre-wedding” party playing games and singing karaoke (or so I am told)

The weather: Planning a outdoor ceremony and a “family encampment” in mid-September has its risks. The weather can be great or it can be not-so-great.
In 2006, when we were making the arrangements to rent the camp Linda and I visited the camp in late September and then went back with Melissa and Alexander in early October. Both time were beautiful sunny “Indian summer” type days and we thought if we could have that weather we would be blessed.

Well, this year after a record dry hot summer, September was acting more like a “monsoon season” than “Indian summer”—the entire 14 day period from when September 15 first showed on the long term forecast, it was showing cold and rain that day. And many of the days in that period were rainy – although we also had some great warm sunny days. We wondered about tents or other ways to be outside in “inclement” weather – but the costs and the logistics were too complex – so our fallback was to have everything in the lodge – which would require some logistical “sleights of hand” converting from auditorium style seating to table set-ups with maybe 100 people standing around. In a room that had table seating for about 90 people at a time.

As we counted down into the last week– it was showing rain all weekend. Finally on Wednesday what had been showing as “partially sunny” Friday (which we wanted because we would be setting up and a rainy Saturday (ugh!!) and Sunday (tearing down and packing up - double ugh!! –) finally changed.
The forecast started calling for a rainy Friday (not nice), a strong chance of showers on Saturday (dicey) and cloudy with chance of showers Sunday (sigh). So we said (again & again) “it isn’t about the weather – it’s about people sharing this celebration with Melissa & Alexander and we’ll deal with whatever comes. It was in God’s hands and we kept praying for some small miracle.

Friday – the forecast held – it was clear in the morning while we where loading up – which was nice and it stayed that way until we got to the camp and had unloaded most of the stuff. But then we got rain showers and they continued off and on into the evening. We did as much as we dared preparing outside – between (and sometimes during showers) but we were also giving serious thought to how we would handle doing it all inside. It was raining as I prepared for bed and my prayer for a “miracle” was on my lips as I went to sleep.

At 6 a.m. I woke up and went over to the lodge to make some coffee—I was overjoyed when I stepped out the door and saw a clear sky. It was frosty and cool but as I sat on the porch drinking a coffee I watched the SUN come up over the lake on a beautiful fall morning my heart was full of thanksgiving. It remained sunny (although a little cool with some wind) until after the ceremony and there was no rain all day even when it clouded up a bit in the afternoon. Sunday morning was also clear and sunny. God is good – and we praise him for small blessings.

Getting Ready:

Saturday morning was full of activity- decorations, putting the arbor in place, running power and placing the sound system.

Cleaning and setting up chairs, setting up and decorating tables for the luncheon and setting out Linda's flower arrangements

– and of course getting dressed—which actually didn’t happen until after some of the guests arrived!!! (as shown in these pictures taken by our friend Sharon Valli less than an hour before the ceremony).

Sharon showed up with a surprise gift -- an offer to act as the "official" photographer -- which prior to then was going to be done by Brent - who was also in the wedding party so it was going to be a little difficult. Brent also took many pictures so Melissa has a good selection to choose from.

The wedding ceremony : The ceremony was performed by Alexander’s father who is a minister in Sweden. I'll do a separatepost with pictures of the and let them speak for themselves.

The afternoon:
Following the luncheon we had a fairly relaxing afternoon visiting and playing games. I got in a few games of horseshoes with my brother-in-law Coe and I teaming up against Linda’s nephew(-in-law) Travis and Chris. There was some work setting up the tables for dinner but lots of help so it was “light work”
The reception:
The dinner was catered by Ruiniti Banquet’ from the Sault. They put on a superb spread centered around a roast of lamb and barbequed short ribs— both of which (as the saying goes) were to “die for”. We had a number of last minute “no shows” so ur concerns regarding having sufficient seating vanished and we had food enough left over to feed a proverbial army.

The speeches “roasting & toasting” the bride & groom were I suppose typical but hearing Melissa’s brothers Melissa’s friends Lee(as MC) and Kate speak of Melissa and Alexander’s father and his friend Magnus speak of Alexander was touching and joyful(and filled with laughter and tears) . I brought tears to Melissa’s eyes (and to Linda’s & mine as well) with a reading of a poem called “When you were little” – It was in a book of stories that we had read tour kids as bed time stories—and this poem was one I had often read to Melissa and had for along time planned to read it at her wedding.

Another highlight of the reception was the square dancing. Again this was Melissa’s idea – so we arranged for Freddie Kent & the Northernaires—a band that is centered around Fred’s ”fiddling” skills and for a square dance caller Ellis MacDonald who was willing to work with novices and teach the moves.
Now anyone who knows Linda & I knows we don’t dance. However, much to the surprise of our boys, we had decided to give it a "whirl" (which if you have ever observed or participated in square dancing is a pretty literal description of that activity). The first set (3 different “squares” was pretty slow and a little “brutal” and many of the people dropped out and didn’t finish. Melissa was a little discouraged and disappointed that such a small number stuck with it and she was going to give upon it. But after a while we persuaded enough people for 2 squares to try again and completed 2 more sets (with a break in between – if nothing else it is great aerobic exercise so we old folks needed a rest before starting again) Each square got easier as we got down the basics – “allemande left and dosie doe” and by the 3rd set it went really well. Linda & I enjoyed it (in her words it was a ”hoot”) – by the time we struggled through the first square I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt

The aftermath:
Sunday morning was busy as we had to tear down and stack all the tables and chairs in the lodge, scrub floors, clean the cabins and kitchen, get the motor home and trailer ready to go and load all the stuff up to take it home.

Linda's niece Tracy and her husband Travis have a camp on the lake and Sunday morning they brought their pontoon boat over and took Chris & Tammy, Kevin & Sarah, Melissa & Alexander and Hunter, Camdyn & Willout for a ride around the lake.

Our young friend Lennie Roetman who had used his truck on Friday to bring out the arbor (and ferry chairs for outside that we had rented from the Elks in Echo Bay to the camp on Friday and back again after the wedding on Saturday) was on hand and helped with the clean-up as well as getting the stuff loaded. My sister Ruby and her husband Art had stayed over night and were a big help as was Linda’s sister Arliss and her family (Arliss had come Friday night to help with the rehearsal supper as well) .
Our frien Maxine from Red Rock had come out Friday and helped a lot all weekend. She was going to stay elsewhere Saturday night but had decided she wanted to stay longer at the “party” so she was there pitching in Sunday as well. Of course our family – including Melissa & Alexander were busy helping out. Our lovely daughters(-in-law) Tammye & Sarah both dived in -- and helped a lot.
So it was a “family affair”—both in the celebrating and in the work needed to make it happen.
There were 2 glitches in an otherwise “perfect event” -- For the rehearsal dinner Friday night Linda had prepared and frozen 3 large pans of meatballs for a spaghetti and meat ball dinner. All three were heated up in the ovens but only one was used and in the hustle of cleaning up and dealing with later arrivals somehow the 2 unused pans were left in the(turned off) gas ovens overnight. With the extra warmth of the pilot lights Linda decided that they had to be thrown out. The more serious glitch was my error. One of our neighbors whose children had been Melissa’ playmates had offered us the use of six sleeping bags. Sunday morning Linda had packed them up in black garbage bags. You probably see were this is going. Well, I saw my sister lugging this garbage bag along the sidewalk and said “here let me do that—and promptly took it and threw it in the dumpster—I still can’t figure out why I didn’t check to be sure it was garbage because I had earlier been doing that for other “real garbage) – bottom-line 3 sleeping bags gone—We felt terrible but in the end it was only “things” and money not anything important -- and we refused to let those things be our memories of what was and always will be a wonderful weekend with family & friends.
Melissa’s smile as she looked at Alexander after the ceremony was worth more than any amount of money could buy— and that’s the memory I will treasure and remember -- forever.
I'll end this report with a prayer for God's blessings on this marriage and on Melissa & Alexander as theylive their lives together.
God Bless

Monday, September 24, 2007

It’s all about God –it’s all about me… (Sept.24)

It’s been several weeks since I did a posting. The big event is now over. We had a great week (and weekend) with family and friends celebrating Melissa’s marriage. I hope to find some time this week to do a special post with pictures of that event. Linda & I also had alovely weekend getaway forour anniversary ove theLaborday weekend and I have an interesting "nature story" to tell about that. However I don’t have time to it justice this morning.

On Sunday morning Paul Hillier is leading a study on Philippians and I was struck but the phrase in Philipians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

Now there are several very significant thoughts that can be drawn from this statement but I was drawn to ask “What work is this that God has begun in these people? (and presumably has also begun in all who have surrendered themselves to Jesus in to-day’s world). I thought almost immediately of one of my favorite passages in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

This could suggest that the work God is doing in us is that we are doing those good works that come about from his workmanship (Poiema). However, on further reflection, this conclusion doesn’t seem to fit. In Ephesians it is “we” who are the results of his work (workmanship) -- that is it seems Ephesians is dealing with God’s work in creation – not this ongoing work (through the Spirit) in our Christian lives that Philippians 1:6 refers to.

So again I asked . “What work is this that God has begun in these people? I started thinking about the whole “grace vs. works” dialog – but it didn’t seem to be very relevant because “grace” is about God’s work –and “works” is about human work”. Since this passage clearly has something to do with God’s work which provides (gives) us something, it has nothing to do with human works or even the human response to God’s work – it seems (by definition) to be describing the results that God’s grace has on our lives.

Where I ended up was a place I come to frequently-of late-- which is that many of our difficulties in understanding the Bible come from the way we frame our questions. (or at least the way we rule out certain answers to our questions from the “get go”). In this case I started from the view that this “work” couldn’t be talking about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus because that was a “once for all’, completed work of redemption- it was done yeras before the Philippian letter was written – so any discussion of an “ongoing work” couldn’t be talking about this “completed work.”

But as I think of it,it seems to me that that is exactly the work that is referred to here --but then how do we deal with the apparent contradiction of a completed work that is ongoing in my life?

Well I don’t know if I’ve really got the whole picture here but I’ve come to this view—we mix up how God’s sees us with how we experience life (see ourselves). When we read about the completed work – this is how God sees it—after all God exists outside time- time has no relevance to Him so he sees it all – beginning to end. (and it will drive most of us crazy if we really try to grasp what it means to live outside of time—or to put it another way to have the ability to see time in the universe in a similar fashion to the way I can look out the window and see my neighbors house in the distance or even walk over there and see it up close)

So – for Christians who have been “saved by grace through faith” God sees the results of a completed work – he sees perfection because our imperfections are covered by the blood of Jesus. Meanwhile ”back in time on this earth” we are still living in these imperfect bodies and with flawed thinking -- we are like the caterpillar who is being reborn as a butterfly—it doesn’t happen instantaneously (and indeed our metamorphosis is a curious one that can fluctuate in in progress) – some days we seem to have emerged and matured and be in full flight—other days we are back in the cocoon wondering if we’d might go back to being a caterpillar and other days we are struggling to emerge from the cocoon – strengthening our wings by the fight to cast of the constraints of our flaws and weaknesses. The good news is that as long as we are surrendering our will to God through Jesus – God only sees the full fledged perfect butterfly and even more good news – which is the point of Philippians 1:6 he (through his Spirit) is there with us in the cocoon, as we struggle to fly or in the rare days we actually take flight – no matter where we are in the experience of that process He is there with us – and Paul states his confidence (as he does elsewhere cf. Romans 8:38) that those who place their trust in Jesus will be carried through to experience the completed work --

So it’s all about God’s work and it’s all about my surrender to him and trust in him. And as I surrender he will give things to do in my life because it is needed to help me break free from the cocoon and fly—I need to ”just do it” without worrying about whether I’m good enough. (because no matter how much I do or how well I do it I’ll never be a perfect butterfly BUT God’s only sees the butterfly not the flaws I see).

Well I guess that’s enough preaching (to myself) for this morning. If there is something here that helps you praise God for that. But in any case for me –as the sun creeps over the horizon and spills into my living room – I say “ this is the day the Lord has made- I will rejoice and be glad in it”

I also haven’t been do much blog “visiting” recently but here are a couple of older items that I had noted.
August 29 - Dee Andrew’s talks about controlling the thinks we can control in her August 23 post (click HERE)
And includes this quote from an unknown source
You can't control the length of your life, but you can control its width and depth. You can't control the contour of your face, but you can control its expression. You can't control the weather, but you can control the atmosphere of your mind. Why worry about things you can't control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?

August 29 – John Dobbs posts an excellent lesson on “Being a confident Christian” based on Hebrews 10 (click HERE)

God Bless

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Getting ready for the future -- Cleaning up the past

It is a dreary cloudy morning here as I sit reading various blog and discussion list posts. I guess 2007 will be remembered as the year we stayed home to get ready for “the wedding”. July here was HOT at least for us. SO hot that for several weeks we were getting up and working in the yard for a couple of hours in the morning and then spending the rest of the day doing inside things. We experience the real dog days of summer in July.

Then one day it seemed like God said to the angels – you left the furnace on high again – and they switched on the air conditioning. (actually I suspect God is sighing over the fact that his created beings have been so careless in their actions that they’ve caused the Global warming thing and that has upset his carefully designed HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system so he has left us on our own to bear the consequences -maybe THEY (aka someone other than me) will do something about it to get things back into balance)

It has been pleasantly cooler since the first of August (roughly) although it has remained dry. Only this week (2nd last in August) have we gotten any rain—and it looks like we might get more today –although the forecast is a return to ”hot & muggy”. Wish the “angels” would leave that furnace alone!!!

I hate to see my water bill for late July & the first part of August because we were watering the newly seeded lawn and the flowers every day (and the lawn several times a day). The good news is that the grass came up and our lawn is looking a lot better – although it still has along way to go.

Well I got interrupted and now we are into the last week of August – hard to believe the summer is (almost) over. In just over 2 weeks we will have family arriving for the “big event”. Last week Linda was busy cleaning the basement since we will have a full house (up to 15) here for a few days before and after the “re-wedding”. And of those 10 will be sleeping in the house –Kevin, Sarah & Will are in the BBB and Alexander’s parents are staying with neighbors.

Anyhow – as Linda was cleaning her part I was “shamed” into taking a run at my office area plus she wanted me to do something about several boxes of stuff I had brought home when I retired and had just stored in a corner to do something with when I got around to it. (You know one of those circles of paper with TUIT written on it!!!). SO Thursday and Friday I tackled this mountain of paper and binders and books and managed to discard 2 boxes of outdated text books from my teaching PLUS I filled the yellow box with shredded paper and filled 3 garbage bags with other papers—well over 200 lbs (100 kg) of paper alone –plus another 2 garbage bags of old binders and other “non-recyclable” junk.

In the course of doing this I had 3 things happen that led to an epiphany of sorts (not something earth shattering and likely not life changing but still it seemed something significant -- something that I hope I can communicate to younger men who are in the middle of their careers and raising a family. This came about from 3separate incidents that all seemed to fit together to create this one big “AHA”. – something I’ll say must have been God’s way of reminding me of something I needed to remember.

1. The first piece of this “being hit by a lightening bolt” came as I was cleaning out the boxes that were the residue of 35 years of work (including graduate school) – most of it from my 30 years at ASI. As I sorted through the papers I would come across a report or other documents about I project I was involved in. It brought many good memories of the people and the successes we had with some of these things. There was also a lot of sadness because I was “tossing” the “tangible” results of months or even years of my life into the trash. The sadness came because of the realization that this document that represented some much work had little or no value now. Sometimes the work was done; the results had been achieved at the time but changed circumstances meant the documents were no longer relevant. In other cases – there was even more sadness looking at proposals for several large projects – proposals that had consumed hundreds of hours of my time-often at nights and on weekends -- proposals that (in my maybe not so humble estimation) were very well done -- and yet they had been shelved and never implemented – due to circumstances out of my control. It was tough to do it but I realized there was no point in hanging onto useless ”mementos”.

2. The second piece of the puzzle occurred because Linda and I have been involved in a project with our church family. When we came home from one of the planning meetings she said “you seemed angry – what’s the matter?” It took me by surprise because I was actually feeling quite positive about the results of the meeting and my role in it. However, as we discussed why she sensed anger, I realized, that I had indeed been dragging some past frustrations into the present conversation and that was causing me to express anger. (Albeit a mild (or suppressed) anger because as best I can tell only Linda really picked up on it)

3. The third piece of the puzzle fell into place when I came across an item on one of my INTERNET Bible discussion lists that introduced me to the writings of DallasWillard. (click HERE to learn more about this noted philosopher who also writes about theological issues . You may have to, as I did, look up the meaning of some big words to even understand what it is that he studies and writes about but if you get beyond the “academic” language he has many profound things to say about faith and living a life of significance within that faith.)

The specific item I came across was an interview (click HERE) with Dr. Willard conducted by Bob Bufford related to his book called “Finishing well” (click HERE to learn more about this book – note I haven’t read it yet so I can’t comment on its’ value but it seemed interesting). The book is based on interviews with noted people who appear to have taken their success in stride and moved on to significance – which I take to mean living in a way that your life has meaning that lasts beyond your time here on this earth.

I also note that the information provided at looks interesting especially to anyone in mid-career who has achieved a degree of success but is still struggling with finding “meaning” in their lives. However, I haven’t taken the time to investigate it so if you do go to look at it do so with “caveat emptor” in mind. (As opposed to my hope that you would be cautiously optimistic that you might find something of value in something I endorse :) :) )

Anyhow – back to the “aha”. In the interview there is a discussion about the concept of moving beyond seeking success to seeking significance.
Bob Buford states (in part): I’ve concluded there are really four steps that, one is struggle, which is trying to be successful, however you form that in your mind. The second is success, which is that you’ve reached that point, and in my opinion in today’s world most people can [get there] just with focus and effort, and determination if not brilliance. Significance, I’m defining almost in the words you said, which is using your experience and knowledge to be helpful to others. And surrender I’m defining as being fully aligned with God’s purposes.

Dallas Willard responds: Well, I guess [I’d like to comment on] just two things there; I think actually that third step you’re talking about [significance] requires surrender. You can’t really manage that within the parameters of success, you have to give up, and so you have to surrender yourself to this good. The other point would be, for me, … many people cannot hear what you say about the , significance, in terms of God, and so I guess, I want to say to people you don’t have to worry about that now. Start with that third step,[significance?] and give yourself up to that. I think it will, in almost every case, will lead on to the fourth step [surrender to align with God’s purposes?] . Now Christians should be able to, as it were, start from the end, and deal with their struggle and their success in terms of that fourth step, and that would transform

Note in the above excerpt from the interview the items in [square brackets] are notes I added to clarify the meaning I took from the words actually spoken

So what great “AHA” came to-getherfromthese3 seemingly disconnected events. Well I have long known and made efforts to practice principles such as

1. “Seek the important things first; don’t let yourself get distracted from that by the urgent (Of course this is a Biblical principle of seeking first the kingdom but it was (as I recall) something I first heard in this form in the writings of Paul Faulkner. (and was repeated in many ways at many times through my life)

2. “put the past into the past” instead of "dragging the past into the present" – something I had learned from my friend Terry Miller over 10 years ago. (I always thought that this was another way of stating the Biblical principle of maintaining healthy relationships by extending and accepting forgiveness) . Terry often pointed out that if we “drag the past into the present” then our future will be determined by the past. On the other hand, if we have a clear view of what we want the future to be and we "drag the future back to the present" we can create a different future and be freed form the tyranny of repeating our past mistakes. (Well maybe this sounds a little weird – I know it did to me at first but as I thought about it and tried to practice it—it was a powerful way to create change in our personal attitudes and behaviors towards others.

3. “No person on their deathbed has ever said ‘”My biggest regret is that I didn’t spend more time at work” (Not sure were that came from – probably a preacher butit has been one of the messages I tried to play when I felt I was being sucked a WAY WAY too far into working.
4. Tis' one life -will soon be past only what's lived for Christ will last (another preacher's favorite that I've changed alittle -- I'd always heard "done" where I put "lived" (and I would add that "lived for Christ" means to me that I must experience significant transforming relationships with Jesus and with others)

The “AHA” was that as much as I had known these things and even in some ways put them into practice - I wondered if “back then” I could have really envisioned (made real) those days of “tossing those hard earned symbols of “success” into the trash and being left with only whatever significance was carried on in the people I had worked and in the lives of my children and in the lives of those in my community I might have influenced in seeing Jesus. – -- if I could have felt the pain and the sadness of those moments of looking back – and seeing that the past was gone – might that somehow have changed some of my choices.

So my first question was ”is there anyway I can communicate this to others who are in the place I was 10- 20 – 30 years ago and help them really live the ”Christmas” carol from the perspective of being at the end of their career – how things were back then – how they are now and how they might have been if they really committed to living by these principles. And I will make every effort to do this – to share my
experience with humility hoping that it can help others.
I really want to be able to communicate to them the experience of standing at the end of your career looking at a pile of paper in the trash (or whatever ever other "things" you might have accumulated ) and saying "This is what my life" was about
But the second “Aha” was the reality that the past can’t be changed – but and today “is what it is” but it isn’t over yet. If I will renew my commitment to “put the past in the past” (and I find I am struggling with this) and if I will take the time to ”paint a picture of surrender and alignment with God’s will for my life” then I can “finish well” (or at least better than I will if I just lay back and drift wherever life takes me

So I ask will there be another picture that you can paint that better represents your life? (I want to say that my focus on the trash is about "understanding the reality" of that possibility. I'm not suggesting that's all there is in my life --indeed this other picture shows what is of much more significance to me. My point is that without this 2nd picture (and more such pictures of lives impacted by my life) fully fixed and fully described in your mind -- then a different picture may not come into full focus and be as significant as it could be with a more intentional commitment to those things.
And I am reminded by this "Aha" experience that achieving those "future dreams" comes only through surrender toGod and alignment with his purposes in ALL that I do.

God – I offer this prayer that I like the apostle Paul may say "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus". Philippians 3: 7-14
God Bless

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Star Light –Star Bright …

Sunday night was the peak time for the Perseid meteor shower (Google Perseid meteor shower August if you want to learn more about this phenomenon. Our friend Sharon Valli would be able to tell you all this information of the top of her head because of her passion for astronomy but I had to look it up.

Our son Kevin was born on August 13 and, from his teen years, he would spend the night before his birthday going out somewhere to watch this display. Since Sunday night was a clear night and promised good viewing Linda & I decided to do some star gazing – as a way of drawing us closer to Kevin - who lives on the other side of the country – and as a way of experiencing the grandeur of God’s creation.

While it was more of a drizzle than a shower it still was an impressive sight to see those brief blips of light streaking across the star filled shy. We drove out to a lake about 20k ((10 miles) north of the city to try to get away from the light pollution. There was still some backlighting from cottages and the occasional yardlight but it was dark enough that we could experience the stars and the meteor show. We arrived about 10 and stayed until 11:30 sitting out on our lawn chairs laying back to look at the night sky. I guess laying flat on a blanket might be better but this was easier on the “old bones” – although it did lead to a stiff neck from leaning back. We saw around a dozen “full fledged” meteor streaks and many other short blips. As I understand it we likely would have needed to stay until the wee hours of Monday morning to really get the full show but you have to be awake to see it and we were (or at least Iwas) already drifting off to sleep when we decided to call it quits and come home.

It was a great experience to sit quietly with the love of my life and commune with nature. There was a tremendous sense of closeness with her and with God that came in the silence and beauty of experiencing this.

If you’ll forgive a personal sentiment, I said to Linda afterwards that 40 years ago I probably would have missed a lot of the meteors because I would have been more interested in looking at and being more physically close to her. I thought it was something of significance that after 40 years we could experience a real and tangible closeness without touching or talking –

Well – other than that life continues. We have finished up the bulk of the yard work – for now. We are pushing ahead with the details of the wedding plans.

Monday, we were talking to a friend about obtaining a sound system for the event. He said he wanted to talk to us about it and it was too hectic at his store to do it there so he came over.

He had had major surgery about 6 weeks ago the remove a malignant tumor. The discussion on the sound system didn’t take long but he did need to talk about and share his anxieties and rejoicings that came as he discovered that what was thought to be a benign polyp turned out to be a cancerous mass and then the sense of relief and praising God when he discovered that there was no need for chemo because he was “cancer free”. Of course there is the ongoing risk of cancer re-developing and he will be having regular MRI’s to watch for that .

As Linda and I listened and gave encouragement as he shared his feelings and fears I thought of the instruction in 1 Peter 5 about “casting our anxieties on him (Jesus)” and was aware of how sharing our burdens with other Christians is an important part of that process.

(Modifying a statement that John made about love I thought “How can we cast our anxieties on Jesus whom we can’t see if we can’t share them with our Christian friends whom we can see?” I also thought about how important it was to simply listen to and affirm the reality of what he was experiencing in this emotional roller coaster and struggle to really give it over to God – rather than as I’m often tempted to do quoting “platitudes” about trust in God and things working for good -- which in effect is saying “there must be something wrong with you because you shouldn’t be feeling those fears and doubts”)

Well that’s enough for now

I dropped by a couple of blog sites last week that I hadn’t been to for awhile

Tim Archer has been “ruminating” on the relationship between worship and assemblyfor the past couple of months – He summarizes this study in his Augus6 post (click HERE).

Preacherman talks about “Walking with God”. I hadn’t been by to visit him for a long time. Some may remember that he was very ill with Guillian-Barre Syndrome as a child and experienced a (rare) reoccurrence last November. (click HERE for the report of this). He recently reported good progress on his recovery (click HERE). Reading his story let’s you see a living example of someone who has made the promise of Romans 8:28 very real in his live – finding good where many would find bitterness and despair.

Some other thoughts from “blog land”
Bobby Valentine suggests that all Christians need to be “theologians” -- probably a weird thought to many – Why not check it out and see why he thinks that? (Click HERE)

John Dobbs cautions us to look at ourselves before we put on the judges robes to pronounce sentence on others (click HERE)

Monday, August 06, 2007

A quiet summer

I haven’t been blogging much for the past several months. Maybe “writer’s block”, maybe laziness or busy-ness or maybe it's just that it didn't seem there was a lot to write about. Not sure I can explain or that anyone cares for that matter.

Since we got back from BC six weeks ago (aside from the weekend trip to the wedding and to see Melissa which I covered in my last blog) we have been pretty busy with a major landscaping project (I wrote a little about that in my "rocky path" post a month or so ago). That coupled with the regular demands of daily living and summer maintenance has filled our days.

The first picture shows what it used to look like along the front of our house . The second pictures shows the "new look". We have pretty well finished the “rocky path” and the associated landscaping.

We pulled weeds from the lawn area seemingly “forever” but last Tuesday morning I took a leap of faith and re-seeded. This morning (Monday) I was pleased to see a few new grass sprouts here & there. I’m hoping that it will soon be a sea of green – We’ll see this week if how that goes.
(This weed-pulling and re-seeding seems like a natural for a modern day parable - weeds in our lives, the futility of trying to fix ourselves - the need for renewal through God's grace -- well maybe -- but since I'm trying to do this without outside help it doesn't quite fit --at least I hope it doesn't fit - if it turns out that my efforts are futile and the weeds win then I'll have to revisit the parable!!)

We found an arbor (one that Linda intends to use as part of the “wedding” in September) that was a key part of the “vision” Linda had for the revamped front yard and it is assembled and temporarily in place. I have to figure out how to install permanent footings so it won’t blow over if we have a high wind(right now I’ve got it tied off to a tree but that doesn’t seem to be a good long term approach!!.

I have spent sometime over the past 2 weeks ordering textbooks and doing other preparatory work for the course I expect to be teaching this fall (assuming they are cancelled for lack of students which can happen).

One unpleasant thing that has happened is that Linda has contracted “shingles” – one hip and leg is affected. It has been very painful and has kept her bedridden a lot of the time. She is “stubborn” however and rests for an hour or so and then gets up and is back at the work – painting, housecleaning, washing curtains – etc. We have had words a few times when I’ve tried to tell her to stop – anyhow we are praying that this will not last too long – especially with the wedding coming up and all the stuff that needs to be done to prepare for it.

Our new “preacher” Paul Hillier (and his wife Michelle) arrived here to take up the assignment on July 1. Lloyd & I and Paul have spent time each week “orienting” Paul to the congregation and talking about approaches to the work here. We kicked off a”40 days of prayer” initiative this morning -- based on the fact that many significant Biblical things occurred in 40 days, -- the flood, Jonah’s warning to Ninevah and Jesus time of prayer prior to his temptation.

I took a couple of hours this afternoon to take my Dad to Thessalon. He & my Mom worked several years during the summers as the “overseers” of the township heritage centre at Little Rapids. Every year on the August Civic holiday that have a heritage day event and he had not been able to go for several years.He enjoyed meeting and visiting with his friends and neighbors from when they lived in that area.

So we have been working steadily during June & July bu the tempo and urgency is picking up as we go into August-- 5 weeks until the big event – that’s scary.

As I reflect on what seems to be a fairly humdrum summer I remind myself that I need to remember that each day is one God has given us and we want to live today rather than spend today getting ready for tomorrow. (but we also need to get ready for tomorrow!!)
I also have not been doing too much "visiting" on other blogs. But I did see a few things that were of interest

Dee Andrews provides a touching description of how her mother is part of the fabric of her life ( click HERE)

Reports of VBS by Neva (click HERE) and Bobby Valentine (click HERE)drew my memory back to the “Wild About the Bible” kid’s day that Pinehill put on last year. Sadly we haven’t been able to do anything similar this year. Perhaps next year.
I hope you have a great August
God Bless

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twice Blessed

How often do you become a grandmother and acquire a new daughter (well actually - daughter-in-law) within a 24 hour period? My sister Ruby was twice blessed in this way this past weekend.

Ruby and her husband Art have 3 sons – James, Trevor and Craig.

Their middle son Trevor is the main character in this story of blessings. The first of the "blessings" was his marriage to Sarah (Smith) on Saturday (July 21)

Trevor works in Toronto and has just moved into the house where he & Sarah will be living in Brantford when they return from their honeymoon in Budapest & Vienna – more about that later. I mentioned the emerging relationship between Trevor & Sarah in my post from August 9 2006 (click HERE and scroll down)

Their youngest son Craig and his wife Jeri are missionaries in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Their daughter Hannah is a seasoned traveler having spent her first birthday in PNG last July and her 2nd birthday (appropriately) in Canada on Canada Day (July 1). For more info about them see their blog by clicking HERE Also see the story of our “chance” meeting with Jeri’s parents (click HERE) during our trip west this spring

Craig was in the wedding party and that is part of the reason for the fact that Craig and Jeri are the source of the second blessing in this story – more later.

To complete the family, Art & Ruby's oldest son James and his wife January live in Waterloo and are the parents of Eowyn and Kiera.

Eowyn was the flower girl at the wedding. James and January were both in the wedding party.

(For more info about James & January see their blog by clicking HERE) (There’s an interesting picture of Ruby playing dress-up with Eowyn that might surprise some who know her and NOT surprise others who know her even better than most) -- I also think there is a connection between the names of James & January’s children and the fact that I came across January taking a quiet moment before the reception to glance over the latest Harry Potter book which was released on July 21. I say I think because I’m not heavy into the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter genre of fiction so I can’t say for certain that they are connected.

The double blessing for Art & Ruby is that the wedding on Saturday at 2:00 was followed on Sunday at 12:24 p.m. with the birth of their 4th grandchild Caleb James (brother to Hannah and son of Jeri & Craig).

To understand that this wasn’t exactly a coincidence – while at the same time seeing that God must have had a hand in arranging the timing, we have to go back to when Craig was planning his PNG mission. At that time Trevor was single with no prospects of marriage on the horizon. However, to be safe, Craig had it written into his agreement with his sponsoring congregation that IF Trevor got married he (Craig) would be permitted to return to Canada for the wedding.

Last May Trevor and Sarah “found each other” via a Christian INTERNET dating service. As her mother Deb explained at the reception Sarah’s parents and brothers were very apprehensive about this process and mentioned (as we had already heard from Trevor) that they subjected him to an intense 90 minute grilling the first time Sarah brought him to meet them. However, Trevor’s quiet manner and Christian commitment won them over.

By the time Craig left for PNG last June, he and James were laying heavy odds that there would be an engagement by September and sure enough plans to be married were announced in September (2006) and the wedding date was set for July 21 2007. Craig and Jeri then began to plan for a return trip to Canada. (and the US). Rather than Craig making a quick trip on his own they got agreement that they would return for an early furlough and then remain in PNG for an extended period before the next furlough. They also wanted to have a second child and wanted to have the baby in Canada during the furlough. The next thing we heard was that Jeri was expecting and her due date was July 21!! They, of course, were hoping for an earlier birth prior to the wedding and praying that the 2 events wouldn’t coincide – which was made more of a concern because Hannah had arrived precisely on the due date. Well, the day of the wedding arrived and still no baby. So there wwere a lot of prayers and they seemed to have worked in separating the 2 events – even if it was only by about 20 hours.

Linda & I accompanied by my Dad drove to Beamsville on Friday and attended the wedding in Brantford on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we were pleased to be there.

All the usual things could be said - radiant bride, loving happy groom, beaming parents, -- and more but I’d probably get stuck on clich├ęs if I tried to describe the event. I will comment that it is good to see a couple who are both deeply committed to their faith in Jesus –that seems to give them a good foundation for a long and healthy relationship. I pray and believe from observation that they will focus on this common faith and not be distracted by any differences coming from their heritages – Sarah having been raised in a Baptist tradition and Trevor in the church of Christ. James, in his toast to the bride & groom, made, what I thought was, a very “poetic” reference to them building their life together - taking good things from each of their families and heritages and blending them into something that was uniquely their’s.

The reception dinner ran a little longer that one normally might have expected but it was filled with thoughtful toasts and speeches. Art had prepared a Powerpoint presentation showing Sarah & Trevor growing up and then growing together – this was well done. Sarah’s brother Erin sang a song that he had composed specially for them as a surprise gift. They had a different(for me at least) approach to having the bride & groom kiss. You know the old approach was to clink on glasses but it seems everyone has a different approach these days. In their case they gave out a “scavenger hunt” list – for example a coin minted in 1976. They would kiss if the item was produced and then kiss again if you could explain the significance of the item – in the case of the coin this was Trevor’s birth year (you may be able to guess the significance of the 1981 coin that was also on the list).

After the dinner there were plans for a special version of the newly wed game that Trevor & Sarah would play with 3 other couples – hosted by her father. There was a couple who had been married 4 years, a couple who had been married 25 years and Linda & I who have been married (almost) 41 years.

Because of the late finish of the earlier parts of the program this was abbreviated so we only had 2 questions where the wives gave their answers with the men not present and 2 questions on the reverse. I matched 1 of the 2 answers she gave and she matched both of the answers I gave – which put us in second place. The winners were the 25 year couple who matched all 4. I don’t know if we can draw any conclusion from this but it may be that after 40 years you can’t remember all the things you knew after 25 years of learning about each other.

Sunday morning, we planned to go to Port Hope to meet Melissa and do some wedding planning of our own.

It turned out that Jeri had started some mild labor and had gone to hospital at 3:00 a.m. They returned home at 8:30 just as we were leaving.

She started having stronger labor and they returned to hospital around 11 and the baby was born at 12:24. (Another thing about the timing was that Craig & Jeri are due to fly to Cheyenne in 2 weeks and the baby needs to be 2 weeks old before he can fly -- so despite some nail biting God worked it out in his own time.

(I know that Jeri is the envy of many mothers who have much longer and more difficult labor) but (in typical man style) I think that it isn’t the difficulties (or lack thereof) of the birth that counts -it is seeing that wonderful new gift that God has given you that really matters.
We had arranged for my Dad to go home Monday with my nephew Ken who was also down for the wedding so Dad was able to get to the hospital on Sunday evening and greet his newest (36th) great-grandchild .

We attended services in Ajax – with a small group meeting in a community hall and went on to Port Hope arriving in time for lunch with Alexander, Melissa and her friend Michelle.

We walked around Port Hope for a couple of hours, went back to the apartment to watch the soccer final – won by Argentina for the 6th time.

We hit the deli at the A&P to put together a picnic supper and drove (15 minutes) to the Coburg beach for supper. We had our wedding planning meeting over food in the park and went back to finish out the day watching a movie – the one about the guy who gets caught up as a character in a book – he can hear the author narrating the story as he goes about his life. (Can’t remember the name but it has Dustin Hoffman as a university prof who teaches about fiction and who helps the main character find out who the author is – it has a bitof a surprise ending but I won’t spoil it – I saw most of the movie although there were a few times I was resting my eyelids!! )

It was close to midnight when we got back to the Econo Inn. Monday morning we met Melissa & Alexander for a late breakfast at Tim Horton’s, transferred over 20 boxes of centerpieces, said our goodbyes and we headed home –leaving at11:30 and getting to Linda’sMom’s around 6 – we got into the Sault just before10 – and back to the yard work Tuesday morning.

I haven’t been doing much blogging so the following “odds & sods” are things I have put into my journal over the past few weeks.

Our friend Mike Case from church had major intestinal surgery in late June to remove what was thought to be a blockage. It turned out to be a malignant tumor. However, in a positive answer to prayer the surgeon was able to remove the entire mass before it had spread – and the post-op test indicated that he was completely cancer free and did not require further treatment(radiation or chemo). Mike is a gifted musician with a music store here in Sault Ste Marie and he is well known in the community as a giving caring person..

A few weeks ago my friend Dee Andrews wrote about the “Gains & Losses” she is experiencing as she and her husband move into a new house they had built after Hurricane Katrina displaced them from their prior home in Slidell La . and Neva lamented about the perverse peace in our world and points to a perfect peace

In early July I received an email from my cousin that talked about a “sharing ministry”that she has started over the INTERNET. If any ladywould be interested in participatingin this sendme an email(or leave a comment with your email) and I’ll put you in touch with her.

The following excerpt from her email explains what it is all about

“ I am into something that I am really excited about. I met a lady …(through quilting ) that so impressed me with her use of scripture. There was never any attempt at explaining what anything meant nor that anyone should feel as she did about them - rather, she shared what they had meant to her through the difficulties in her life. … I thought how I would like to be a part of a Bible study group who approached scripture in that way. One day it dawned on me that I was sharing quilting questions and tips on the internet - why wouldn't the same thing work with Bible thoughts. So I set it up and in just over a month am up to 24 ladies sharing in this way. There is only one rule - it cannot be a discussion of what we think a particular scripture means - only what meaning it has had to us personally in our journey… I really am hoping it will turn out to be a blessing to many people - it already is to me.

Well that's it for to-day.

God Bless